Monday, September 26, 2005

Dear readers

This blog will be unattended for a couple of weeks while I visit one of the world's hot spots for refugees, South Africa.

I will post some stories from that part of the world on return.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

the remaining Nauru detainees cry for help

Monawir al-Jaber and Abuozar al-Salem remain in detention on Nauru

The Age is reporting concern about the mental health of the last 27 asylum seekers on Nauru has prompted the Howard Government to send three experts to the Pacific island.

One of the 27 is under 24-hour watch after serious acts of self-harm and many others are believed to be suffering depression and need drugs to sleep.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hundreds attempt self-harm in detention

The ABC is reporting more than half of the 900 self-harm incidents over three years occurred in the Baxter detention centre.

Of course, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has played down the level of self-harm in detention centres and accused some asylum seekers of resorting to "a very unattractive type of protest" simply to draw attention to themselves.

But desperate actions like these are in most instances cries for help and proof positive of the inhumane treatment meted out to vulnerable people seeking sanctuary on our shores.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let them eat BBQ

There are media reports that asylum seekers held in detention will be offered taste testing of prospective menus and weekly barbecues in a further attempt by the Howard Government to soften its hardline image on asylum-seekers.

Methinks BBQs are a poor substitute for fair and humane treatment...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Anti-terror laws raise 'police state' concerns

ABC is reporting Muslim and legal groups say the Federal Government's new counter-terrorism laws will unfairly target the Muslim community and could lead to Australia becoming a "police state".

Slowly but surely we see the protections that we once took for granted being eroded, just as they have been for asylum seekers. I've said previously that this erosion will follow just as night follows day if universal human rights are devalued under the nation's laws.

Wilcox in the SMH

Asylum seekers 'paid $1 an hour'

AAP is reporting Asylum seekers are allegedly being paid as little as $1 an hour for work in detention centres in what a lawyer says could be a breach of the Migration Act.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More horror treatment of asylum seekers

ABC is reporting this morning that DIMIA has deported an asylum seeker to the Middle East, only to fly him back to Australia three days later when new evidence about his case emerged.

The asylum seeker, who has been identified as Hassan to protect his safety, has spent the past five years in detention.

Over that time, his case for asylum was rejected by the Department of Immigration and a number of courts.

However, the UN Human Rights Committee had begun investigating Hassan's case and had requested that the Australian Government not deport him until its inquiries were finished.

The UN was alerted at the last minute in this case but the government has its weather vane working. Intense advocacy combined with public scrutiny is obviously the only way to stop these abuses.

The Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle, has accused the Department of defying a UN request not to deport him, and she's questioned the department's claim that it notified the UN before "Hassan" was deported

Monday, September 05, 2005

Asylum seekers are 'beyond help'

AUSTRALIA'S mandatory detention system has traumatised asylum seekers to the point where they could be beyond medical help, the psychiatrist most closely involved in their treatment says.

Read the article in The Age

Friday, September 02, 2005

Results of Rights Australia petition on mandatory detention

I received the following message from Howard Glenn of Rights Australia. Thanks from me to any who signed the petition via this blog:

"I am writing to you to report on the progress of the petition in support of reforms to the treatment of asylum seekers. You were one of 6089 people who signed our petition about the reforms proposed in draft legislation by Government Backbenchers, led by the Member for Kooyong, Petro Georgiou MP.

You are probably aware that the Prime Minister announced a set of reforms to the treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees last 17 June, and that the draft legislation was withdrawn as a result by Mr Georgiou. The campaign you were part of had a big effect in tipping the balance for these reforms.

As the petition was being signed, we kept both the media and members of Parliament informed of the overwhelming support for the petition. But because the petition called for Senators to support legislation which has since been withdrawn, we have not been able to find a way to present the petition formally to the Senate. The advice we’ve received is that there is no valid way of presenting it in its current form.

Rights Australia continues to monitor the implementation of these reforms, which were to be completed substantially by the end of October this year. If you are not already on our mailing list, and want to be informed of developments on this and other issues, please go to or click directly on

The Federal Member for Chisholm, Anna Burke MP, is also running a petition on a related issue that you might like to sign at Some detainees who have been released into the community on bridging visas have a new problem – they aren’t allowed to work, can’t receive welfare and are ineligible for Medicare. The petition, which we support, seeks to fix this problem.

Thanks for your continued involvement in the work for human rights in Australia."